Saturday, January 10, 2009

I've always been a crier. Angry, excited, happy, frustrated....regardless of the emotion, once it hits a certain level - I cry. In the soundtrack of my life, the music would be full of those moments when the music swells.

At times that's been something that frustrated me, especially when I was angry. Nothing ticked me off more than to be angry and have tears well up in my eyes, and along the way I learned some tricks including one in a seminar about women in business. The speaker suggested if you find yourself in a situation where you feel you're going to cry but it just isn't something you can allow to happen, drink a glass of water as fast as you can. It's really hard to cry while you're drinking water.

Which means I must have spent the last several months drowning.....because there have been times I've kept waiting for the floodgates to open and found myself shocked not to be crying. Matter of fact, there have been many monents over the last year that I shocked myself by not sobbing. Maybe it was shock? Self-defense? I don't really know...because it's not that the emotions haven't been there. Prior to this, the only time I didn't cry when I fully expected to was my wedding .....and that was because EVERYONE expected me too and I was trying so hard to hold it together. Though my voice did waiver, my eyes did fill with tears...but I wasn't the gooey mess everyone expected.

I'm almost sorry I didn't open up betting among my friends and family for when my breakdown might occur. It might not be too late. Some might have expected it to happen after my first surgery, or the second, or when I broke my foot this summer. Possibly when I discovered it is still broken? Or when we bought a house? Figured out we're going to owe WAY more on taxes than we thought?

I thought for sure I was going to lose it when I got the diagnosis of Interstitial Cystitis recently, and the accompanying news that it's a forever condition. That they want me on a three times a day medication that won't even start helping for 3-6 months. That it can cause debilitating pain at times, and that part of it just might not go away...and in the meantime I'm on a special diet to figure out what my triggers are...and so far they are some of my favorite things. Like REALLY spicy food. But no, that didn't do it.

Neither did the discovery that I have tons of scar tissue in my urethra from Joseph's birth - scar tissue that should have come to their attention every time I had a catheter after his birth. I had a procedure this week that will need to be repeated three more times and it is excruciatingly painful.

No, the thing that might just do me in is probably the one that most people around me will not understand at all. After my procedure I was given a medication high in salicylates, which happen to be boldly marked on my chart as something I'm very allergic to. I've been having to take benadryl until it gets out of my system and pump and dump milk until it's gone.

Pumping hasn't been working, I haven't been able to pump ANYTHING and I chalked it up to stress, reaction to the medication, etc and then it hit me.....I've been taking benadryl. An antihistamine that can dry up a milk supply in no time flat. I may have just weaned my son without even realizing it, and while I know logically that my first responsibility was to take care of myself, I will be devastated if this is the thing that brings a complete end to nursing.

Most people around me won't understand what that means to me, and if I tell them I'm upset about it most will blow it off. I'm sure to hear things like "well, he is about to turn a year old..." or "that's what formula is for..."

They won't understand that it has been a point of pride for me that through all of this I've still been able to nurse my son, that it is one of the few things in his first year that I don't feel was taken away from me. That infertility and illness have left me feeling broken and betrayed, and nursing was a case of my body NOT letting me down.

I'm sitting here, sobbing, and feeling like very few people are going to understand why I feel so broken hearted. I wondered when the tears would start, but right now I'm worried about whether they will stop. People in my life have said I've been strong through this, they don't know I've held it together, etc.

The thing is, I don't feel strong, I don't feel as if I've held it together. I feel very weak, completely overwhelmed and discouraged and as broken apart as one can be.


Me said...

I am ***so*** sorry about everything you are going through. I don't have any cure-all words of reflection. Your distress over nursing, to me, makes perfect sense in light of how self-sufficient a woman is on the nursing front and how intensely it facilitates the bond between mother and child. It is one of those things, in the abstract, that "can't" be taken away from you. You already lost one of those with the hysterectomy (sp?); now you very well may have had a second one taken away.

As for not feeling strong, I completely understand. You're not feeling strong because, justifiably, you are dealing with more than you can deal with right now. That doesn't mean you aren't strong, indeed incredibly strong. It just means that you are overwhelmed or have more than you can bare. Draw the analogy to the World's Strongest Man competitions or Highland Games. OK, Bjorn Jorgsen from Scandinavia is trying to squat 1,500 pounds (?) after successfully squatting 1,250. He doesn't. Three tries, he is unsuccessful and is eliminated. Now, does that make him weak because he couldn't carry everything he had on him? No, dear God, he is one of the World's Strongest Men. He just had more on him than he could handle.

Same thing here. It makes sense to be completely overwhelmed and discouraged but that doesn't make you weak. It makes you overwhelmed and that makes sense. There are some phrases people throw around with the hope of seeming to be brilliant that get on my nerves ***BIG TIME***. One of them is "God doesn't give us anything we can't handle." Two words. Bull (&) Crap.

We put our head down and push ahead for whatever reason. For you it will be your family (husband and babies). It's not that we can handle it; it's that we have no choice.

Please take care of yourself and your family and know that you are 1) doing your best & 2) your best is pretty damn amazing.

hydrogeek said...

I'm so sorry you've had so much to deal with. I just wanted to let you know that I get it. Nursing is the one time I got to trust my body to not let me down. I really hope you recover from the Benadryl and get to keep nursing. Keep up the demand. Good luck.

annacyclopedia said...

I'm sorry for everything you're going through right now. It is a lot, and you have every right to be upset. And the possible end of your breastfeeding relationship with your son is a huge deal - many women I'm close to have talked about the grieving that can come with nursing coming to a close. I'm hoping that your milk supply will bounce back, and if not, wishing you and your boy peace in the transition.

Came from the L&F.

Emma B. said...

I am SO sorry, Mandy. Nursing isn't just about giving the baby breastmilk or formula -- there's the convenience, and the snuggles, and the primal satisfaction of being able to nourish your baby. As I'm discovering with Andrew, bottlefeeding has a few advantages, but it is not at all the same. This is a legitimately big deal, and I think you're entirely right to be upset about it. Goodness knows I have been.

On the practical side, I'll tell you a few things that my excellent LC told me. First, pumping output is not the same as milk supply, and some women don't respond very well to the pump. Second, temporary supply problems in women who've previously nursed well are easier to fix than endemic low milk supply. The Reglan is definitely helping me out, so that might be something to ask your doctor about. I'm pumping a couple times a day, eating oatmeal, taking blessed thistle, and drinking a ton of water, though I suspect the Reglan makes more difference than these things.

Once upon a time, I nearly drowned while sailing on Lake Michigan, when a sudden storm blew in and caught me too far from shore. The wind kept capsizing my small sailboat, and I was running out of strength to keep pulling it back over. It just blew and blew and blew, and I never could catch my breath in between. That's how these last few months have felt to me, and I know it's been like that for you too. I'm so sorry that this keeps happening.

bleu said...

You should be able to get your supply back up. has lots of info on it. It is a great resource.

I do get it.

I also wanted to say I had a friend diagnosed with IC and had a very bad time of it but it did not stay that bad for too long. She went through diet changes but also the first year after diagnosis was way worse than the next and a few years down the road she did not have it badly anymore. I know everyone is difference but she was very very bad for a time.

Also I found that when I couldn't cry for long periods of time it was actually hormonal, I was low estrogen and that is what did it. It shocked me.

Good luck.

namaste said...

Wow. You have certainly had more than your fair share of crap to deal with. I'm so very sorry. I'd say that you're entitled to time in your pajamas watching bad TV eating comfort foods, in your own personal cocoon, until you are ready to come back out again.

As for the nursing, I totally get it. After the nightmare of infertility, nursing felt like the one thing I could do right. My body had betrayed me in so many ways, I felt like half a woman, etc. But nursing was something that miraculously I could do (even though it was difficult and I never felt like I pumped enough - I had to come to realize that enough was a relative term). Nursing was something I got right, whereas conceiving a baby was something I couldn't do right.

Sending you many hugs.

Here from L & F.

FattyPants said...

Your post brought me to tears. I can't imagine, it would break me down too. Hopefully some domperidone(is that spelled right) could help bring your supply back. I wish I could say something that would make you feel better. I'm so sorry.

Claire said...

I get it. I really, really do.